(The Center Square) – There remains much uncertainty about Wisconsin's April 7 primary election.
The Wisconsin Election Commission met by phone for a special meeting Tuesday in which there was talk of moving the election to May. There also was talk of counting absentee ballots long after the election had ended. And there was talk of a shortage of poll workers.
Although there was no action on those measures, commissioners voted against moving the election. They also voted against a proposal to count absentee ballots that arrive after Election Day.
"We need to move forward on this date, at this time," Commissioner Marge Bostelmann said about keeping the election on April 7. "And the only way to move forward with the date on this time is to make sure we take into consideration the additional time for absentee ballots."
Commissioner Mark Thomsen said that it is "rigging" the election by not changing the law to accommodate late absentee ballots.
Commissioners were close to an agreement to ask a federal judge to allow Wisconsin more time for the "unprecedented" number of absentee ballots that are expected on election day. But the agreement evaporated when Bostleman wouldn't agree to require postmarks on late absentee ballots and as well require local clerks stop counting ballots by 4 p.m. on the Friday after the election.
The Election Commission also didn't agree to move the election to May 12.
The votes were largely partisan, 2-4, with the commission's liberal members voting for the changes.
The lack of action means that the April 7 election will proceed as planned.
It will, however, be very different.
The Election Commission said as of Tuesday morning, more than 900,000 people have requested an absentee ballot. Nearly 300,000 of those ballots have already been returned. Both are records for spring elections.
In-person voting will also be different. The commission said many local clerks are having trouble finding enough people to work the polls. That will mean long lines on election day, and might even prompt closing some polling locations.